Scaling Your Firm with Contract Staffing — 6 Lessons for Success

Scaling Your Firm with Contract Staffing — 6 Lessons for Success
Companies around the globe are seeking more flexible talent solutions, in order to drive growth and close skills gaps while also controlling risk and cost. In a changing economy, non-permanent staffing solutions such as contract and interim are becoming more visible at talent firms worldwide.

Contract staffing makes up 85 percent of the market, generating $497 billion in global revenue. Once largely focused in a handful of industries, interim staffing is increasing across many sectors. 2020 saw surges in demand for temporary labor across healthcare and pharmaceuticals, e-commerce, food processing, logistics and distribution.

As business needs evolve, more and more recruiting firms are exploring short-term staffing as a long-term business strategy. Many firms are adding new contingent staffing capabilities, while others have well-established systems and networks in place. Within the MRINetwork, industry experts such as Thavi Louanlavong, President at Siter-Neubauer & Associates, and Aaron Armston, Head of Legal Staffing at The Bluestone Group, have mastered total talent access. Together with their clients, they’re helping to shape the future of the workforce.

The Rise of Interim & Contract Staffing

Contract staffing has been gaining momentum for years, as companies big and small outsource their workforces. From Google to the U.S. government, mom-and-pop shops and the world’s largest banks, organizations are increasingly augmenting full-time teams with contract employees.

One doesn’t have to look far to see the potential. In 2020, Louanlavong achieved interim commission numbers never before realized at MRI. Her extensive knowledge and experience led to massive opportunities to place contractors on assignment with government facilities throughout Texas.

Armston too has seen great success by taking a blended approach. His journey in contract staffing began in 2008, when he joined The Bluestone Group as an interim employee. Today, he’s placing legal professionals at the largest investment banks, hedge funds, asset managers and energy trading companies in the world. 

“Contract staffing is faster, more aggressive … There are higher highs, and lower lows. You have to be Eli Manning, and have the same reaction after a touchdown as an interception.” — Aaron Armston, The Bluestone Group

How to Get Started with Contract Staffing

If you’re new to interim staffing, you may not be sure how to get started. At the 2021 MRINetwork United Showcase, Armston and Louanlavong shared ideas and strategies on “Scaling Through Contract Staffing.” Read on for tips and tactics, or log in to watch the full session and access tools and training as an MRINetwork member.

1. Have the Right Mindset

Many perm staffing consultants tend to think of contractors as 1099s, but Louanlavong says it’s more about timeframe, and how long candidates can support clients. To Armston, contract and perm both have the same core objective, and require the same commitment to creating relationships and results. Contract staffing may move faster, Amston says, but there’s no reason why a permanent recruiter can’t be successful at contract staffing, and vice versa.

2. Organize & Maintain Your Data

Inventory is everything in recruiting. Louanlavong believes it’s critical to organize your data from the very start, and keep it maintained. The sooner you start, the easier it will be to manage all of the details, and keep pace with opportunities as they unfold. A well-kept database is a competitive advantage, and can be powerful leverage in securing new business.

“If you’ve got the talent, you’ve got the solution.” — Thavi Louanlavong, Siter-Neubauer & Associates

3. Lay the Groundwork Before You Need It

Business boomed for Louanlavong in 2020, but she chalks her success up to more than 20 years of really hard work. During the pandemic, she utilized existing processes and technology to wrangle 150-200 people on assignment simultaneously. With thousands of candidates in her database, she relied on established systems to expedite outreach, automate and keep up with every candidate.

4. Always Be on the Lookout for New Talent

All good contracts must come to an end, so it’s important to always be on the lookout for the next opportunity. At The Bluestone Group, Armston is in constant communication with his network of hiring managers and legal professionals. He keeps in touch with clients and professionals on an ongoing basis, to ensure he has an accurate pulse of the industry, and can respond in real time.

5. Negotiate on the Front End

Contract-to-hire and salary conversations inevitably come up in contract staffing. These discussions are important to tackle on the front end. Louanlavong is diligent about addressing agreements on the front end, so expectations are clear at every step. To Louanlavong, converts are a testament to an ability to bring in top talent that clients want to keep. She takes pride in conversions, knowing organizations will be well-staffed given the talent that she brings. 

6. Celebrate & Advertise Your Wins

From a business development standpoint, contract staffing is no different from perm. As Armston says, it comes down to delivering consistently, building your reputation in the industry and letting your results speak for themselves. Celebrate your wins when you accomplish something notable with a client, he says, or when you help solve an industry-wide problem or respond to a high-urgency need. Let your industry know what you’re capable of, and be relentless in shopping your abilities across both contract and perm.

Easing into Contract Staffing

Contract staffing may seem daunting, but you don’t have to start from scratch. Armston and Louanlavong suggest an MPC (Most placeable candidate) approach for recruiters testing the waters. Incorporating contract capabilities into your permanent conversations is typically an easier lift than bringing on a dedicated interim recruiting right away. 

Get the Support You Need

All recruiting — perm, contract, SOW or otherwise — requires a lot of persistence and hard work. Armston encourages recruiters to think about contract staffing as just another tool. “It’s the same job, the same function. Incorporate it into your marketing calls, and don’t give up.” Louanlavong emphasizes the peace of mind that a footprint in the interim side can provide. Like Armston, she agrees that you don’t have to start from scratch. With back office support, you don’t have to manage everything. Once you get started, you may find it’s easier than you had anticipated.

Want to learn more about Interim Solutions? Contact us to discuss how MRINetwork can help you to grow your business.